Types of early childhood services

There are many early childhood services available to families. Some organisations offer more than one of these services.

Long day care

Long day care is generally available all day or on a part-time basis until children start school.

What types of care are available

You have the choice of government, private, community or non-profit organisations. In most cases your child will go to long day care at an early childhood centre in your local area. These centres may be called a child care centre, early learning centre, kindergarten or preschool.

Long day care may also be provided:

  • by a carer in your home - eg through a nanny or babysitting services
  • through the Family Day Care scheme in the carer's home.

Find a long day care service.

Occasional care

Occasional care is sessional occasional child care for babies, toddlers and children under school age. In South Australia, occasional care is generally offered through government preschools and in some child care centres.

Who can use occasional care

Occasional care can be used to participate in a range of activities including non-work and casual work commitments.

First priority of access is given to children:

  • under the guardianship of the minister
  • at risk of serious abuse and neglect
  • in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • where a parent’s disability or health condition affects their parenting
  • children with a disability and/or additional needs
  • children in socially isolated families.

Second priority is given to low income families with an Australian Government Pensioner Concession or Health Care Card.

Occasional care is generally provided in small day care centres and may also be available in some child care centres, preschools, family day care homes, nanny and babysitting services or through the In-home Care Program.

Search for SA government occasional care services by selecting occasional care as the ‘site type’.

Find occasional care providers on the Care for Kids (SA) website.

Family Day Care

Family Day Care is where a professional carer looks after your child in their home. It is sometimes known as home-based care. The hours of care are flexible and carers may offer full-time, part-time or occasional care options.

Some professional carers offer overnight, weekend or vacation care. This service may suit shift-workers or people who are on call.

Family Day Care is small group care for a maximum of four children under school age plus three school age children.

For enquires and further information: email - DECSFDCBusiness@sa.gov.au

Phone - 8343 6533 or freecall 1300 551 890.

Find Family Day Care in your area on the Care for Kids (SA) website.

In-home care

There are two types of care that can be provided in your home:

  • nanny and babysitting services
  • the Australian Government's In-home Care Program where approved carers provide the service.

The hours of care can be flexible and matched to your needs:

  • all-day
  • part-time
  • casual
  • before and/or after school
  • during school holidays
  • sometimes available overnight or during weekends and holidays, as agreed with the care provider.

The Australian Government In-home Care Program

This program is only available where other forms of care are not suitable - eg in cases where:

  • the child has an illness or disability, or lives with another child who has an illness or disability
  • the parent or guardian has an illness or disability that affects their ability to care for the child
  • the child lives in a rural or remote area
  • the parent or guardian is a shift worker or works non-standard hours when no other approved childcare is available
  • the parent or guardian is the primary carer for three or more children.

To find out more about the In-home Care program contact the MyChild hotline on 13 36 84 or visit the mychild.gov.au website.

Out of School Hours Care (OSHC)

This service is available to school-aged children:

  • before and/or after school
  • usually on pupil-free days during the school term
  • sometimes during school holidays.

More about Out of School Hours Care.

Parenting groups, playgroups and playcentres

These options offer parents with babies and toddlers the opportunity to meet regularly with other parents, share experiences and build a support network. Generally parents bring their children along to these groups and participate in play-based learning that supports the child's growth and development.

Find out more about about parenting, playgroups and playcentres.

Preschool and kindergarten

Preschools are sometimes called kindergartens. They may be run by government, private or community providers.

Children who will be starting school within the next year (4-5 year olds) can attend preschool. Some 3 year olds are also eligible to attend - for details see preschools and kindergartens.

Children usually attend up to four sessions per week for up to four terms.

Preschools may be:

  • a stand alone preschool centre
  • co-located with a school
  • co-located with another child care service.

More about about preschools, or find a preschool near you.

Integrated early childhood services

Integrated early childhood services offer a combination of two or more services. The services vary from centre to centre and may include child care, playgroup, preschool, early education and learning, early development, health services and family support services.

Children's Centres for Early Childhood Development and Parenting offer a mix of education, health and family services and are supported by the state government. Each centre may offer a slightly different mix of services depending on the needs of the community.

Find an integrated centre near you or read more about Children's Centres for Early Childhood Development and Parenting.

Approved carers

Approved carers are individuals or organisations that have a licence to operate and have been approved by the Australian Government as:

  • having qualified and trained staff
  • meeting health, safety and other quality standards
  • being available for certain hours each week.

You can apply for financial assistance if you use an approved carer. All approved carers will have a certificate on display or show you on request.

More about approved carers.

Registered carers

Registered carers are people who are registered with the Family Assistance Office.

They may include grandparents, relatives, friends or nannies as well as individuals in preschools, some outside school hours care services and some occasional care centres. You can apply for financial assistance if you use a registered carer.

More about registered care and becoming a registered carer.

Related information

On this site

Other websites


  • MyChild line for enquiries about childcare - 133 684
  • Childcare access hotline - freecall 1800 670 305
  • Child Care Access Hotline teletypewriter (TTY) - 639 327

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Page last updated 21 November 2017

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Department for Education
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